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What is Heritage?

Singapore’s heritage is found all around us and we experience it as we go about our daily lives. From stately historical buildings and precious museum artefacts to festive celebrations and food offerings, Singapore’s rich and diverse multi-cultural heritage is one of the defining traits of our country and of our identity as Singaporeans.

For the purpose of Our SG Heritage Plan, heritage will be broadly categorised into tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Tangible heritage covers the historical buildings, structures and sites that serve as physical reminders of our history and culture. It also includes the artworks and artefacts in our museums that form part of our National Collection.

Intangible cultural heritage comprises the practices, expressions, knowledge and skills, which communities recognise as part of their cultural heritage. It includes performing arts; social practices, rituals and festive events; oral traditions and expressions; traditional craftsmanship etc. These different forms of heritage are typically passed down from one generation to another and will continue to evolve with time.

Under Our SG Heritage Plan, we have outlined strategies to safeguard and promote both tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Our efforts will make sure that what has been left to us from the past will become a legacy for the future.

“Singapore’s distinctive cultural heritage is the anchor of national identity. At the heart of it, community ownership and their active participation are key to its sustainability.” ~ Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, 10th Asia Cultural Co-operation Forum, Hong Kong, November 2017

The Importance of Heritage

Heritage is important because it is the sum total of our memories, experiences, records, artefacts and traditions that we have inherited from our past. It contributes to who and what we are, and is responsible for how we came to be as a nation and as a people. Heritage also provides the building blocks for our nation-building efforts and forms the foundation of what we can and will become.

Because heritage is what defines us, it plays a key role in building our sense of national, community and personal identity. And because heritage possesses such identifying characteristics, it instils in us a sense of place and belonging, and expands the term “Singapore” beyond our geographical boundaries to encompass our way of life and a place we call home.

Heritage is also important because it brings together different groups of people from diverse backgrounds, such as families, seniors, youth and new citizens, and unites them through shared experiences. It encourages us to put ourselves in the shoes of those with different histories and cultures, and helps us to connect with others and cultivate a sense of empathy.

These common threads and shared experiences, which could include the trying times we went through, Singapore’s remarkable transformation, the physical changes to our living environment etc., can also unite us in times of difficulty and make us more resilient as a nation. They can also inform and shape the ways we meet new challenges, and help us to adapt and survive as the world around us changes.